Streaming your favorite content is one of the main reasons why people use VPNs nowadays. And with Netflix being the most popular platform, offering thousands of movies and shows, being able to unblock it is a must for every premium VPN service. In this article, we’ll try to see if it’s possible to use Private Internet Access for Netflix.
The problem with Netflix is that you have to be in a country whose library you want to stream. This means that when you’re on vacation, you lose access to one of the biggest content selections in the world in the Netflix US library. And while unblocking it should be possible with a VPN, Netflix has done what it can to keep its treasures geo-blocked. Last year it even managed to dodge the EU’s attempt to lift the ban.
So how does PIA (Private Internet Access) fare in this area? Stick with us for the next few minutes to find out.
PIA Netflix field testing
We made our tests from Europe, with a base speed of 250 Mbps using Fast.com, which we also used to check the nominal speed in every country with a VPN turned on. Our playback settings were set to High.
On the Netflix website, the recommended download speeds are as follows:
- 3 Mbps – for SD quality
- 5 Mbps – for HD quality
- 25 Mbps – for Ultra HD (4K) quality
Here’s the list of locations which we tested with Private Internet Access VPN:
- The US, East Coast and West Coast
- Canada, Montreal
- Australia, Melbourne
- Japan, Tokyo
- The UK, Southampton
- The Netherlands
- Germany, Berlin
PIA was able to unblock Netflix and stream in HD with adequate loading times in all countries except for Australia, Japan, and Germany. While the results are pretty good, we really missed the Japanese version because it has the biggest Netflix library in the world. Below is the case-by-case study of each location.
PIA for Netflix in the US
The US, New York, 64 Mbps
The East coat server gave us a very solid 64 Mbps, but the West coast paradoxically managed even more despite being thousands of miles further from us. This means that watching UHD (4K) and loading the content in a couple of seconds or less should be easily possible.
PIA for Netflix outside the US
Canada, Montreal, 9 Mbps
Moving north resulted in speeds going south – we were left on the outskirts of Montreal with 10 Mbps, which luckily was enough for HD streaming. The show’s loading and skipping times took longer than in the US but not long enough to irritate us.
Australia, Sydney, 13 Mbps
Swimming to Australia meant drowning our hopes to access Netflix. If it ever becomes available via Private Internet Access servers, be aware that the speeds can vary significantly between the locations. In our case, Melbourne gave only 7 Mbps – almost twice slower than Sydney and dangerously close to the minimum 5 Mbps needed for HD.
Japan, Tokyo, 15 Mbps
Trying to leave our grave memories behind, we moved to Japan. At first, it frightened us with the speed test numbers fluctuating around 3 Mbps, but our emotions shifted from fear to joy when they slowly crept up to 15 Mbps. Sadly, we ended this emotional rollercoaster on a sour note with our access to the biggest Netflix library denied.
The UK, Southampton, 13 Mbps
After our failures in Asia and Oceania, we moved back to Europe, hoping to compensate. We started in the UK with a horrible speed test result of 3.4 Mbps. Even though it changed to 13 Mbps later, it’s still inexcusably low. Luckily, PIA unblocked Netflix in the UK. We streamed our show smoothly, with loading times not exceeding a couple of seconds.
The Netherlands, 90 Mbps
The Netherlands greeted us with a sudden burst of speed. We were able to access Netflix, which loaded and skipped parts of the show seamlessly. With PIA’s Netherlands server the only thing you need is popcorn.
Germany, Berlin, 86 Mbps
The German server kept the pedal to the metal with 86 Mbps, which is three times faster than the speed needed for UHD (4K) streaming. Unfortunately, Netflix stayed blocked like a Facebook account with a fake name.
How to use Private Internet Access for Netflix?
Using PIA for Netflix is a piece of cupcake. After you set up your Netflix account and choose your preferred location (the US, probably), you have to do the same in PIA’s client.
See that arrow near the world map? That’s where you need to click to open the alphabetical list of available countries. Now you’re on your own to scroll down to the US or find it using a search bar. If you have trouble connecting to the server or Netflix stays blocked, try another city – some countries have more than a few.
While connecting on desktop or mobile is easy, other devices can be a bit tricky because PIA doesn’t have apps for routers or smart TVs. They can be configured manually by following instructions on the VPN’s website, though.
It would be easy to say that Private Internet Access is not good for Netflix if the service wasn’t so cheap. If you’re spending most of the time in North America and Europe, this is a great choice, unless you need Japan-exclusive content. But if you’re in Asia or Oceania – the speeds might not be enough to stream in HD or even SD.
Another caveat is the lack of apps for routers and smart TVs, but they can be manually configured by following the instructions.
Last but not least, the real price of PIA’s low cost is the lack of live chat support, meaning that when experiencing an issue, be prepared to search in forums and knowledge bases.
If you’re not sure about committing to PIA, try it for free for a week and see if it unblocks your preferred Netflix library and provides enough speed to stream in high quality.